A #HarlequinHeartwarming #SaturdaysAreBookish | “Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart” (Golden Matchmaker’s Club series, Book One) by Tara Randel

Posted Saturday, 1 January, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart” direct from the author Tara Randel in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: During the original blog tour for this novel, earlier in 2021, I was only able to give an abridged preview of my future full length review, which is now being released. It was meant to hug close to my review for “Her Christmastime Family”, originally scheduled for a December tour stop however both were unfortunately detained behind my blog until I fixed a technical mistake! Thereby, they are part of my ringing in New Year, 2022 with celebrations of #ChristmasReads, Romances and Jane Austen.

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A note of apology and explanation about the delay in sharing this review:

I am grateful I can finally release my thoughts about two lovely stories set in Golden, Georgia which have captured my heart. It is a setting I originally fell in love with in [2019] and I am so happy the author has continued to set stories in this environment! The towne itself is beyond charming but its the characters who stay with you which makes it a sweetened return whenever you dip back into one of the stories in sequence of the overall series! (you’ll find all the interlocking stories in this world mentioned on this review)

I had hoped this review and the one for Her Christmastime Family would have appeared on Jorie Loves A Story before the ball dropped in Times Square as that had been my intention, however, as I was working extra hours throughout December, I didn’t have time off to realise there was a technical mistake which prevented both posts from being released properly until New Year’s Day, 2022 when thankfully my days off resumed after the holidays.

I’ll be sharing a bit more about how 2021 ended for me as a book blogger during #TheSundayPost, however, for now, I simply wanted to apologise to the author for not sharing these two reviews sooner and for having to wait until this first week of a New Year to sharing my thoughts and reactions with my readers, too.

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A #HarlequinHeartwarming #SaturdaysAreBookish | “Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart” (Golden Matchmaker’s Club series, Book One) by Tara RandelStealing Her Best Friend's Heart
Subtitle: The Golden Matchmaker's Club
by Tara Randel
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

A home renovation…

Could change this friendship forever

Heidi Welch has her eye on the perfect home…until Reid Masterson buys it! Now Heidi has one last chance to get back the home of her dreams from her childhood friend and longtime crush. If she helps Reid with the renovations, he'll sell her the house. But “just friends” seems just about impossible…especially when friendship keeps getting in the way of falling in love.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Romance Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335426369

Also by this author: His One and Only Bride, His Honor, Her Family, Trusting Her Heart, Always the One, (#25PagePreview) of Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart, Her Christmastime Family

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 27th July, 2021

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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The Golden Matchmaker’s Club series:

Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart by Tara RandelHer Christmastime Family by Tara Randel

Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart (Book One)
Her Christmastime Family (Book Two)
His Small Town Dream
← forthcoming August, 2022!

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re-visits the small towne I fell in love with whilst reading two stories from the Meet Me At the Alter series: “Trusting Her Heart” & “His Honour, Her Family” – I am so grateful this new series continues to develop the towne and the characters I’ve come to know in this North Georgia mountain community!

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About Tara Randel

Tara Randel

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

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my review of Stealing her best friend’s heart:

You cannot help but to smirk and roil in laughter as you first learn of the antics of Gayle Ann and Alveda!! Two women who are of a certain age and whom make no excuse for their opinions but who with a nudge of encouragement from Gayle Ann are considering matching two young unattached best friends in their towne! The hilarity ensues throughout their first conversation about this situation because Alveda is the more cautious one of the two – she hesitates a bit to get involved as she doesn’t want to interfere where their presence isn’t needed (or wanted more like!) but realises that without a bit of interference, these two singletons might not ever walk down the aisle as well!

Gayle Ann is the instigator – settling it into her mind this is her true calling – to find hearts who need a bit of a push to realise their ‘meant to be’ and find themselves in romantic harmony. I think for Alveda’s sake, its safer to go along with Gayle Ann than it is to discourage her efforts! Laughs. I’m unsure if Heidi and Reid know what is in store for them because by the sounds of things, these two ladies are going to give them a proper chance to reconsider their options and perhaps see each other in a different light than they have previously. Of course its all supposition until the two enter into the fold of the story – but for now, I was revelling in the plans and happily excited to see how Randel was going to have these matchmakers release their plan into action!

What was more interesting to me is their connection to each other – when Gayle Ann mentioned how she had hired Alveda as a cook but soon found a true friend and confidante in Alveda. The two women were meant to be in each others’ lives – that much was certain but I’m not sure either of them knew how important they would become to each other as well. I loved being a bug on the wall and just listening to them theorise why this is the best for Reid and Heidi – how neither of them want to see a potential couple miss the chance to have someone to walk through life with together but also, how cheekily happy this plan was making the two women too as I had a feeling for whichever reason, they felt they were losing their purpose and worth in life. I think meddling into the romantic affairs of those they knew in Golden was one way of staying relevant in their community but also finding new purpose in trying to inspire others to live a good life in the only way they knew how to encourage that inspiration!

There is nothing worse than having your heart smashed by someone else’s actions – in this case, I understood why Heidi was aggrieved by Reid purchasing the house she wanted for herself. It happens whenever you are seeking a new place to live and the market is so firecracker hot it is hard to pin down a listing because everyone is courting the realtors so quickly that it makes your head spin twice as fast to find one listing you can afford to put in an offer! The ways in which Heidi found out about Reid’s purchase felt ironic as well – a daily ritual to check on the house itself led her to finding it sold. Of course that might prove a bit of tall task of the matchmakers to get Heidi to see Reid in a positive light – I’d imagine she might not feel as readily inclined to pursue him romantically now that he technically owned the house she felt was her ‘dream house’ which in effect was her way of finding roots to put down in Golden!

From that moment, I knew I was going to enjoy pursuing the path Randel was writing for us to walk. Heidi had such a fiercely passionate reason to insert herself into Reid’s life – to reclaim what she knew was rightly hers even if he didn’t quite see it the way she was herself. Reid for his sake was caught between the expectations of his father and the goals of his own dreams being shattered by a destiny not meant to be claimed. The pair of them share far more than they realise in that particular regard – of how hard they each have worked towards their own dreams and how sometimes, life has a bit of irony to throw onto your path about where you believe you ought to be and where you are actually needed. Sometimes the dreams we cast out for ourselves alter over the years and sometimes a few dreams were not meant to be ours at all but its how we re-adjust afterwards which says far more than anything else.

I had a suspicion Heidi didn’t think she had a very full life given how she was choosing to look at her life at this junction and yet, she was a tutor to the local teenagers who were struggling in math. I still remember having a math tutor myself and sadly for me, the lessons I learnt with my tutors didn’t translate to class but that’s another story altogether! Laughs. Math wasn’t a strong suit for me which is why I could relate to the difficulties of trying to ‘see’ math in the way a tutor wants a student to see the arithmetic equations. And yet, she had a successful bookkeeping business as well. I had a feeling she was shortchanging herself as much as Reid was wrestling with the path he most wanted to take himself in his own life. They both had a bit of baggage from their past – his stemming from his father and hers I believe was more to do with finding the self confidence to believe in herself and her own path rather than the expectations of others.

You have to give credit to Gayle Ann and Alveda! Not only are they interfering with the lives of Heidi and Reid, their doing it in such a crafty way that you can’t help but want to hug them! Seriously – these two women are sharp as fiddles and despite what everyone else might think, they definitely know how to bend the truth to where it influences someone else to act! I loved their scenes together and of course, following along with their schemes. I don’t think anyone could have talked them out of their plans because in their eyes, they were in the right and it would just take a bit of time for others to see that for themselves.

Heidi was so caught up in her own headspace, she wasn’t allowing herself to entertain the moment of being with Reid. There were moments where you thought they might realise their own affections for each other and yet, both were so strong willed they would tuck away from one another as soon as they even felt an emotional shift hovering between them. Reid was just as stubborn as Heidi – not wanting to admit his own heart was giving him reasons to reconsider where he stood in their relationship – as over the years, it had been maintained as a platonic friendship which had started in their youth. Now, they were both finding themselves in each others’ company much more often and yet, both of them couldn’t quite connect their hearts and their feelings together. All whilst Randel etched out reasons why both were hesitating to take a chance on a love they never expected to find. Randel fused the story with the emotional bits you’d hope to find in a relationship-based romance with the angst of trying to bridge two lives together which were fighting their own natural chemistry.

And, yet nothing quite prepares you for the life and death situations Randel places inside Heidi and Reid’s story to serve as a catalyst of enlightened change for all the characters involved. I’ll only say it involves fire, so if stories which have heavily dramatic scenes involving fire upset you, just know this one is a small scene at the end of the novel which packs quite the punch in regards to how it affects your own heart to read the passages involved. I generally find stories involving fire or wildfires the hardest to read myself but the ways in which Randel handled both the intensity of the scene and the ways in which she used that situation as a turning point for the story on all fronts, served as such a strong ending for a story I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I hope others who pick up this novel to read will find the same true for them as well.

One of the best scenes of the story was how Randel choose to bring the Golden Matchmakers Club into its official standing with the men and women in the ‘club’ itself choosing to band together for the good of the community. Each of the members of the club had something different to offer but they had a common goal which makes you smirk and smile; mostly because it is their love of Golden and the will to see this community continue to grow and develop into a destination others would appreciate finding to live out their own lives which endears you to the Club itself because of how their efforts are for the joy they can give to others. Their intentions might be honourable but its how they go about producing results which might blur the lines a bit on what could be considered interference – however, its how they bring lives together which entertained me the most and I can’t wait to read the next installment in this series!

On the Contemporary Romance styling of Ms Randel:

I was overjoyed finding out how much Ms Randel *loved!* her characters & the setting of Golden in the Northern Georgia mountains – as I had instantly felt attached to them myself! I was quite thankful finding out this new series is anchoured to the stories I’ve previously have read as this was a setting I definitely wanted to re-visit and find myself residing in for quite a few more stories as Randel’s characters have a way of giving you new reasons to enjoy reading Contemporary Romance set in small townes! I admit, too, it wasn’t a hard sell for me – as a reader I have a penchant for small towne fiction and serial stories are always top choices as well. Plus, I know authors aren’t always able to explore secondary character story-lines and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her as much as I’m wicked excited about reading these stories myself.

Happily I had remembered a bit about the store Heidi works at in Golden but I was afraid I might have missed a few particulars of the series outside of that detail as sometimes with a lot of migraines (especially a year prior to reading a continuation of a former series) the details of certain series might lapse in my memory. Thankfully, from what Randel shared in the opening pages and chapters of Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart – I was able to feel right as rain re-settling back into Golden, Georgia! Especially since Randel has such an ease about giving us a wicked good viewing of where we’re entering her characters’ lives and where she is hoping the journey of the story will lead us by the conclusion of it.

When it comes to renovation and restoration of a house which has fallen a bit to the wayside of when it was originally built, I admit, I am definitely the kind of girl whose keenly invested in learning the ‘new’ history of how a house can once again become a ‘home’. Courtesy of the types of series and shows I regularly watch on television which showcase innovative designs and designers who let the houses speak their own truths about how they want to become restored to a new standard of life as their bones are rebuilt and rejuvenated for a new generation. Part of what I love most about these kinds of renovation stories is how the work is equal to the story of the houses themselves – meaning, there is always a personal touch inclusive of why a designer or contractor chooses to make certain choices along the route of the renovative design. I love seeing how they select what they choose to include in the restoration but also, to see how the house itself re-blossoms into a beautiful home you’d love to call your own. For those reasons along, I was happily walking alongside Heidi and Reid throughout this story!

I love writers who can give us stories to chew on as much as find ways to tuck in the laughter as well. We all need more humour in our lives especially as life grows adverse and this is one story I loved for having started on such a humourous note between Alveda and Gayle Ann as it set the perfect tone for me as a reader. And, yet, Randel has a gift for giving us a more dramatic backstory when it comes to unearthing the hidden depths of Heidi’s past and the life had lived prior to choosing to relocate to Golden as a teenager. It was through that sequencing that you saw the strength Randel has for writing drama and how she can secure you in her vision of a character’s backstory which is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It was a powerful bit of insight into Heidi’s formative years but it also showed a different side to Randel’s own writing style which I felt was wicked brilliant.

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This novel was originally toured

via the blog tour courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

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Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

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By clicking this badge you’ll be able to backtrack through the blog tour – finding more posts by the book bloggers who took part in the tour itself, their reactions to the story and other lovely additions to the route. All the blog tours I host with Prism have a variety of stops & posts to enjoy visiting and I encourage you to click these badges in order to find where to travel next!

Be sure to return on Tuesday, the 4th of January to read my reactions and ruminative thoughts on behalf of Her Christmastime Family!! It will be the first #RomanceTuesdays of the New Year, followed by Searching for Home a Love Inspired Contemporary Romance novel on the 11th of January which is also a featured Prism Book Tour!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart” and “Her Christmastime Family” as well as the book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Tara Randel and blog tour banner were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. LibraryThing banner was provided by LibraryThing.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SaturdaysAreBookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 1 January, 2022 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA

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2 responses to “A #HarlequinHeartwarming #SaturdaysAreBookish | “Stealing Her Best Friend’s Heart” (Golden Matchmaker’s Club series, Book One) by Tara Randel

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Steele,

      I think you’d LOVE Golden – there is a whole sequencing of stories attached to this lovely mountain community in Northern Georgia; I’ve truly become smitten with the characters and especially how the Matchmakers Club formed and has continued to move forward! :) Definitely the type of stories which give a burst of uplift to those who love Contemporary Romances!

      PS: There is a dramatically intense ending in this one though so brace yourself for that but otherwise, its a gently told story where a community envelopes itself into everyone’s lives for the greater good.

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